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Environmental Health Perspectives

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Featured Children’s Health Articles

From the EHP Editors

Fluoride has been added to public drinking water in the United States since 1945 to help prevent tooth decay. It also occurs naturally in some drinking water. Bashash et al. used data from the Early Life Exposure in Mexico to Environmental Toxicants (ELEMENT) Project to study whether prenatal exposure to fluoride was associated with standard measures of intelligence in children at 4 years and 6–12 years of age. In a cohort of 299 mother–child pairs, the authors measured fluoride in mothers’ urine during pregnancy as a proxy for prenatal exposure. They found a statistical correlation between the children’s cognitive ability at 4 years and 6–12 years through standard intelligence testing. They estimated that a 0.5-mg/L increase in fluoride in mothers’ urine was associated with an average decrease of 3.2 points on the General Cognitive Scale (at 4 years) and 2.5 points in IQ (at 6–12 years). Although this study adds to evidence that fluoride exposure may affect neurodevelopment, the authors note that their findings need to be confirmed in other populations.

Photograph of a young child and her pregnant mother
©FatCamera/iStockphoto

Prenatal Fluoride Exposure and Cognitive Outcomes in Children at 4 and 6–12 Years of Age in Mexico

Photograph of a father and child outdoors
©VILevi/Shutterstock

Risks and Benefits of Green Spaces for Children: A Cross-Sectional Study of Associations with Sedentary Behavior, Obesity, Asthma, and Allergy

From the EHP Editors

The benefits of being outdoors in green spaces include increased physical activity and reduced stress, but there may be risks as well. In a cross-sectional study of 3,178 children, the authors examined both health benefits and risks. First, they measured the distance from each child’s home address to green spaces classified as either forests or parks. Then they evaluated whether the distance to forests or parks was related to several health outcomes. They found that living near forests (but not parks) was associated with lower relative prevalence of obesity and less sedentary behavior (measured as excessive screen time). On the other hand, the prevalence of asthma and allergies depended not only on distance but also on the type of green space. Although the study did not distinguish among types of plants found in the green space, future research might explore whether this factor influences relative risks of asthma and allergy. See related articles on greenness and children’s health, below.


Surrounding Greenness and Exposure to Air Pollution During Pregnancy: An Analysis of Personal Monitoring Data
Residential Greenness and Birth Outcomes: Evaluating the Influence of Spatially Correlated Built-Environment Factors
Surrounding Greenness and Pregnancy Outcomes in Four Spanish Birth Cohorts
Green and Blue Spaces and Behavioral Development in Barcelona Schoolchildren: The BREATHE Project
Urban Tree Canopy and Asthma, Wheeze, Rhinitis, and Allergic Sensitization to Tree Pollen in a New York City Birth Cohort
Associations of Residential Long-Term Air Pollution Exposures and Satellite-Derived Greenness with Insulin Resistance in German Adolescents
Nature Contact and Human Health: A Research Agenda

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